September 25, 2015

We Say No to Domestic Violence

If you're from Australia then you would have noticed, read and heard the recent news around the unacceptable domestic violence against women; for me it is heart-breaking to hear that this is happening and that many women live in fear of someone they believed that they love and trusted with all their heart and soul.

This year to date, and we're nearly 10 months into 2015, 63 women and children have been killed by partners or family - people that they trust with all their heart and soul! Just yesterday on the news I heard that a 31 year old man from the Hunter Valley, 2 hours north of Sydney, was charged with killing his 12 year old stepdaughter; what parent, guardian or anyone would do this to a child, to someone that they love?! I just don't understand this and I don't believe that I ever will.

Our new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, stated that "Disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women"….."But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women" as he unveiled a $100 million package to boost support services, training and fund practical measures to help those fleeing abusive relationships. The aim of the package is to keep women safe in their homes, on the streets and online. I totally support.

I would have to say that I am very lucky to not be a victim of domestic violence and nor do I know of any close friends and/or family going through this. However, you never know what is going on behind someone's closed door; they could be putting on a very brave face in public.

Respect should be given to everyone regardless of gender, age, status or even job titles. We are all people, we are all humans and we are all here for a limited time; we shouldn't have to live in fear and nor should we be fearing those we love, trust and respect.

Have you experienced domestic violence or know of someone? How did you or they manage to get out or what help was available?

Love and respect each other.

Jo x

September 13, 2015

Brunching at Blacksmith Surry Hills

It had been a little while for the girls and I to catch up and what better way than to catch up over brunch; a serious lifestyle pastime that we all enjoy. This time we decided to go try out Blacksmith located in Surry Hills. I've walked past this funky cafe many times and had it on my 'brunching' list so this was perfect!

The menu layout has been thought about with leather and denim 
When I first walked into the cafe my first impression was 'wow'; the styling was unique and funky and very hipster like and I didn't realise how big it was inside. Not only have they thought about the type of food and drinks they are to have on the menu but also the styling of the cafe which includes the little things like the saucers, spoons, tea pots and water bottles. The cafe is also great for those with children as it's big enough to fit prams and right across the road is Albert Park.

The spacious interior 
I ordered by usual skim piccolo to start with as I studied the menu; everything sounded amazing and I was pretty hungry. One of the girls decided to check out their Instagram to help with deciding on what to get; it just made me want to order every breakfast item!

The unique Blacksmith spoon and saucer
I had finally settled on the 'Rough-forked Avo' which consisted of smashed avocado, goats cheese, black quinoa on sourdough toast with a side portion of bacon (~$14 + $3.50 for the bacon) and the 'Energiser' juice (~$5) which consisted of apple, pineapple, ginger and mint - this seriously filled me up that I didn't even need lunch.

My tasty Rough-Forked Avo

One of the girls ordered the brioche french toast with fruit and maple syrup and me with my sweet tooth just couldn't resist tasting it. OH.EMMM.GEEEEE - next time I'll be ordering this for sure!

I really liked this cafe and thought that the food was well presented and very tasty; I will be back here for sure. One thing to note though, which is a drag for them, is that they don't spilt bills so either come prepared with cash or note that someone in the group with be paying on their card and collecting from everyone else. 

To Blacksmith, thanks for the experience and the tasty dishes. 

Jo x

Blacksmith Surry Hills
116 Chalmer Street, 
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: 02) 9690 0103

July 12, 2015

Japanese Like No Other - Niji Double Bay

Seafood would have to be my favourite food in the world, any style, and in particular, Japanese; because I love how they can keep it fresh and simple. Yet, there is so much flavour that keeps me excited. 

One of my beautiful girlfriend's and I went to try out Niji Restaurant and Bar at Double Bay on Saturday night and "wow" seriously doesn't give the place the justice that it deserves. We were greeted with a smile and taken to our table to have a look over the cocktail menu where I ordered "The 21" - this delightful drink consisted of sloe gin, choya umeshu, luxardo maraschino and bitters. 
Can never say no to oysters

The manager then came over to see how we were going with the menu and asked if there was anything in particular that we wanted OR would we prefer to have an experience…. That was it for me; a Japanese food experience is music to my ears, well, to my stomach. So, an experience we decided on and left it to Niji to show us their fabulous world.

Words cannot describe the amazing journey that we went on; we started off with some amazing oysters, swam with melt-in-your mouth sashimi, diced tuna, sushi (sorry, can't remember which one but was still amazing), my all time favourite scallops, agedashi tofu and then waygu beef.

All this food was superbly finished off with the chef's dessert choice and what a fabulous choice he made; there was green tea moochi, chocolate lava cake and a berry sobert. I'm not normally a sobert kinda girl, but this one was so good that I couldn't stop eating it; practically licked the plate!

Niji isn't totally new, they have been around making a name for themselves in Kingsford with their original sushi bar. However, Niji at Double Bay is different and the decor is warm and inviting; the staff are friendly and ever so helpful, offering great recommendations and knowledge to the menu. 

We finished the night full but light at the same time; that is what is so fabulous about Japanese food. You can eat quite a bit but because the food is light you don't feel heavy afterwards. 

Thank you Niji for a fabulous night and thank you for giving us a great experience; we will definitely be back for sure!

Jo x

Niji Restaurant and Bar
21 Bay Street,
Double Bay NSW 2028
Tel: 02) 8095 9508

July 05, 2015

Kepos & Co.

Last Sunday my cousin and I went to check out the Senasian event at Mojo by Luke Mangan. But before going to indulge in some sweet sweet desserts by Black Star Pastry, Katherine Sabbath and N2, we decided to have brunch at the new Kepos & Co. It's the new restaurant opened by Michael Rantissi who also owns Kepos St Kitchen located in Redfern. 

Kepos & Co. is located in Waterloo inside a little hideaway. The styling keeps to its traditional middle eastern theme with the inside beautifully decorated with stunning tiles and exposed bricks and amazing lighting. The menu is completely different to what is offered at Kepos St Kitchen which makes it hard to decide which of the restaurants you will want to go to as both are amazing and unique in its own way. 

Exploring the menu with our coffee
The stunning lighting
You can see the chefs cooking through the exposed brick wall
Sunday serves brunch between the hours of 9am - 3pm. We started of with a coffee whilst we explored the brunch menu trying to decide what we wanted; it was hard as everything sounded so tasty. Looking around at dishes coming out to other tables also gave us food envy which also made it hard for us to choose. 

We settled on ordering a couple of dishes and sharing. We had ordered the Pide stuffed with sujuk, picked chilies, kashkaval cheese and kalamata olives ($19) and the Potato tortellini with goat's curd, za'atar and asparagus ($24). Both dishes were amazing and so tasty with the potato tortellini being my favourite of the two dishes.

Our dishes for brunch; looks so good
The sizing of the dishes were just right, not too much to be in a food coma and not too little to still be hungry. Then as a little surprise, we were treated to a slice of their own chocolate and hazelnut brownie; wow, so moist and tasty!

The delicious brownie surprise
Kepos St Kitchen was and still is a favourite of mine and now their new Kepos & Co. has become another favourite. If you haven't gone to try either restaurants, I totally recommend that you do and let me know what you think. 

Jo x

Kepos & Co.
Shop 5, Casba
18 Danks St,
Waterloo NSW 2017
Tel. 02) 9690 0931

June 26, 2015

Champagne Brunch at Ananas

Last Sunday I finally had the opportunity to try the famous (champagne) brunch at Ananas Bar & Brasserie with a wonderful girlfriend of mine. It was my first time there and from all the amazing stories I had heard about this place, I was truly excited!

Ananas is known for its amazing french cuisine right here in Sydney, beautifully located at The Rocks. When you enter the world of Ananas you are instantly whisked away to what reminds me of moulin rouge; the decor is stunning, glamourous and colourful and oozes a sense of Paris in the 1920s. 

Their spectacular brunch is held once a month and is a buffet of an array of delicious French delights and surprises. The two hour buffet is $69 per person and you can add a two hours bottom-less Mo√ęt Champagne package for $50 per person! This if course, we did! Who wouldn't?

Being a lover of seafood and given that we were having champagne, I had to obviously start with the oysters, ocean trout and cured salmon. OH. EMMM. GEEE! What a way to start a Sunday morning; I believe I could start every Sunday like this.

Never ending oysters!
They definitely weren't shy about the champagne either; it was constantly topped up and nicely chilled. Obviously being a buffet it means you walk to the food section to fill your plate up with the amazing food but Ananas have stepped it up a notch by placing the food stations around the restaurant which included a hot food station (of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, spinach, roast beef and lamb etc), crepes station, charcuterie station, cakes and pastries station and my all time favourite, an ice cream station. Wait staff also come around with a variety of dishes of quiches, croissants, tarts and many more.

The ice cream station
Nutella crepes, chocolate love pot, eclairs and tarts.
For the next two hours we dined on this amazing food, drank the champagne and chatted until we were told our two hours were up. It was a fun experience and something that I will do again. It's a perfect place to go to with friends or for even a special occasion. 

Ananas Bar & Basserie 
18 Argyle Street,
The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: 02) 9259 5668

Jo x

May 31, 2015

Suzie Q Coffee & Records

Yesterday I finally caught up with a dear friend of mine for brunch. Life get's so busy at times but it's comforting to know that when you catch up with dear friends it's like time has never passed. 

We went to try out Suzie Q in Surry Hills for brunch this time. The reason why I decided on road testing Suzie Q was because I have been following them on Instagram for a little while now and have envied their food and secondly, which would have to be a main point, is that my friend is a huge huge huge lover of music, especially old school music and music that were made on records. So, it was a win win for everyone!

Photo Credit
I had arrived first and was seated very quickly as there were a couple of tables available and by the time I had sat down and taken my scarf off, my friend had arrived. We were presented with our menus which were smartly inside old music record covers.

Coffee with Jeff Beck
The menu isn't overly extensive but offers something for everyone and they had a couple of specials on the menu in which they talk you through before leaving you to mull over the menu for a little bit while getting your coffee and juice.

We both ended having the same brunch menu item of "Its Right Place" which consisted of poached eggs on sourdough with our relish ($11) and with your added choice of house smoked ocean trout, avocado salsa and lime (+$8). This dish was amazing and very light so it didn't leave you feeling overdone! You'll notice that all their menu items are named after a song which is fun. 

Totally recommend this dish
Their coffee is delicious and I had my usual, skim piccolo. My friend had their "The Cure" juice which was made up of carrot, apple, tumeric, lemon and ginger ($5.50) and hipsterly (new word to add to the dictionary) served in a glass jar.  

The service was top-notch there and if you know me, it's something I regard highly on. My friend and I spent a couple of hours there just talking, laughing and catching up and not once did we feel rushed to leave. The staff just came around every so often to see if we wanted anything else and just left us to enjoy out time.

It was such a lovely catch up and Suzie Q is a fabulous place to have brunch at; so if you're around Surry Hills, I highly recommend. I may have found another regular spot for myself. 

If you have been, please let me know what you like there or what I should try next.

Suzie Q - Coffee & Records
1/18 Hutchinson Street
Surry Hills 2010
Tel: 02) 9332 2739

Jo x

April 12, 2015

Easter Holiday in Singapore

Hope you all had a great Easter and a lovely break with family and friends. I sure did! If you follow me on Instagram (if you don't, I suggest you do) then you'll know that I've been in Singapore for the last week and a half with one of my girlfriend's for a break of food, shopping and relaxation. 

I've been to Singapore many times, mainly as a small stop over or a fly through, but haven't done the whole tourist thing for probably over 10 years. So this time, and also because it was my friend's first time into Singapore, we decided to spend a bit longer here so that she could see and experience the sights, sounds and flavours of Singapore. 

We didn't spend the whole time in Singapore; we broke up the trip and made a side trip to Bintan Island, Indonesia, for three days of resort living to soak in some sun, sand and massages. I wrote a separate post about our time on Bintan Island which can be read here
The stunning beach on Bintan Island
Singapore doesn't have a lot to do but 5 days here you can seriously pack in quite a bit and really embrace yourself into the various Asian cultures that make up Singapore. It is pretty easy to get around Singapore via their public transport system; we mainly travelled on the MRT (their train network) and the cost to get from place to place is on average 0.90 cents (totally cheap!) and if you have to get a taxi then even they are cheap here!

Cereal Prawn
There are some highlights of Singapore that is worth experiencing and my number one recommendation is experiencing the food culture that Singapore has to offer. Singapore is made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Caucasians and Eurasians and other Asians of different origins which means the variety and options are plenty. Singapore is famous for their chilli mud crab, Hainanese chicken rice, roti and my new favourite, cereal prawn.

A very good friend of mine lives in Singapore and every time I come I always will catch up with him and his beautiful girlfriend. During this visit, as always, he met up with us and took us out for dinner at Clark Quay where many restaurants, nightclubs and bars are surrounding this waterfront. We had an amazing array of food which consisted of chilli mud crab with man tao (asian bread to dip in the sauce), cereal prawns, aromatic duck (also served with asian bao) and asian greens (to be healthy).

Aromatic duck and the man tao (steamed and fried versions)
The famous Singapore chilli mud crab
To really experience Singapore's amazing food culture you have to go to their many hawker centres which is like a massive food court offering a variety of food stalls. There you'll get to tasty many different cuisines and dishes for the cost of a coffee! Many dishes there cost around $3 - $5 so you can grab a few to try. The one that we went to which serves more local food is Lau Pat Sat
Some tasty food that you can get at many of the Hawker Centres
Ice cream in a slice of rainbow bread that you can find on the streets
Singapore Zoo would have to be my favourite zoo as it's the one zoo that I know that doesn't have cages (at least for 98% of the animals) as they have designed it in a way that the animals cannot come out and human can't go within. We had a special Jungle Breakfast with the Orang Utans that you can organise at the zoo. It's a buffet breakfast so that is plenty of options and then they bring out the Orang Utans to join you for breakfast and the keepers provide you with a history of them and what they get up to and enjoy. The best bit is that during the breakfast is that you get to get up close and personal with the Orang Utans and get a photo with them. Amazing! 

Restaurant where the buffet breakfast is served

To have breakfast with the Orang Utans, you had to book online. I would suggest getting in early as it gets booked out. It costs $33 pp (adults) and $23 pp (children 6 - 12 years old) for the buffet breakfast with the Orang Utans and $32 pp (adults) and $21 pp (children 3 - 12 years old) entry into the zoo. After breakfast you can then spend the rest of the day at the zoo exploring all the other animals and attending some of shows; which for me I had to attend the Elephants of Asia show. Elephants are my favourites so I couldn't miss that show.

Mother and baby Orang Utan enjoying breakfast with us
Baby Orang Utan chilling out and being cute during breakfast
Elephants of Asia show
Chinatown and Little India are a couple of places worth experiencing. I found Chinatown more fun and interesting with a lot more to do and see. Little India was a great place to go to if you really want to buy a sari dress and gold. Chinatown had markets to explore and traditional foods to try.

You haven't been to Singapore if you haven't been to Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling; the original Singapore Sling. So of course we made a trip to Raffles Hotel, to Long Bar, where the original Singapore Sling was invented. I'm not really a cocktail girl so we ordered one for my friend and I had a whisky. The hotel is beautiful and kept in its traditional 1920's style and the service is fabulous; the bar staff are quick to attend to you and will offer to take your photos with the famous cocktail in hand.
With my whisky at Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Laneways or Arab St is another place you should experience while in Singapore. Not only is it the place to go get some amazing Arab food but the laneways has some unique boutiques to explore and some great street art. You can wonder through the streets and just explore the different stores and cafes. Arab St also has many fabric stores so if you're after some beautiful fabrics, I would suggest going there. 

Haji Lane (parallel to Arab St), Singapore, with many boutique stores to explore 
Colourful wall art along Haji Lane, Singapore
Marina Bay Sands is also another place to visit especially if you're a shop-a-holic and a shop-a-holic of high-end fashion brands. Here you'll find the likes of Alexander McQueen, Kate Spade, Channel and Dole & Gabbana, just to name a few. Whilst there we treated ourselves to high tea at TWG Tea, the world's finest tea. 
One of the many TWG Tea places where you can enjoy high tea or lunch
We were provided with the tea menu and no joke, there was seriously, thousands and thousands of different teas to choose from. Not being a true tea drinker, it was like stepping into a unknown planet! Feeling a little under pressure to choose a tea, I fittingly choose a tea under the heading "day time tea" assuming that you drink these tea during the day!

Preparing for our tasty high tea
Singapore's Merlion

Sentosa is a little island that is part of Singapore and is a short tram ride or cable car ride across. We took a cab to Faber Peak to get the cable car across to Sentosa. At Faber Peak you can view the city of Singapore and from there get the Superhero themed cable car to Sentosa which crosses through a building and provides a stinging 360 view of the southern precinct. There are plenty of things to do at Sentosa so it does warrant either a full or half day there. If you have kids then it would have to be the perfect place to go to as there is a movie world there with activities and a (man-made) beach there were you can enjoy and relax.

Superhero cable car from Faber Peak to Sentosa
This time round I have experienced and viewed Singapore in a different light and I would happily say that I'll be more than happy to come back and spend a few days here; mainly for some light shopping and the food.

Thank you Singapore (and Bintan Island)…until next time.

Jo x  

Where we stayed?
While in Singapore we stayed at:
Orchard Hotel Singapore
It's located on Orchard Rd and the closes MRT is Orchard MRT. I totally recommend this hotel for anyone as it was comfortable, modern, friendly staff and very central to everywhere you need to go to in Singapore.